Guest post by University of Calgary student teacher, Lisa Nguyen
I cultivated a love for poetry at a young age, but for many people it is an inaccessible genre that is tedious to read, nonetheless teach. Although it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, I’m convinced poetry appreciation and creation relies on effective communication. If a person clearly conveys something meaningful through a form as fluid and pithy as a poem, they have engaged in an artistic process that places them in the company of great writers.
When my partner teacher Rick and I conceptualized this poetry unit, our goals were to improve student communication skills, add an undeniably engaging element, and have the class authentically experience creative writing. It seemed fitting that today’s highly visual and technologically savvy generation would transform the concept of a concrete poem and digitally bring it to life.
Our Grade 6 Humanities classes completed a three step writing method that culminated in a kinetic poem. Each phase required students to delve deeply into their thoughts and wonders, broaden their knowledge of poetry and powerful writing, become familiar with different computer programs and websites, and tap into their creativity.
Students documented their work using the online notebook program Evernote which was synced and shared so we could monitor progress instantaneously. We placed emphasis on the process rather than the product and assessed students by giving them formative feedback on their written reflections completed after each phase. The student’s ability to communicate their understanding and experiences was our evidence that meaningful learning took place.
To bring their poems to life, students used Keynote to create text animation. I was amazed how quickly they mastered the program and how they naturally collaborated to share their knowledge. Watching the finished products proves that richer language was used to communicate deeper messages and this makes these poems worth producing.
Here are three student examples of ‘Poetry That Moves”: